23 SES 12 A, Resisting Neoliberalism in an Era of Risk: Local, national and transnational perspectives: Part 2
Symposium continued from 23 SES 09 A
Over the last two decades, parents and community members in New York have resisted the neoliberal corporate reform agenda in schooling (Lingard and Hursh, 2019). The parent-led opt-out movement in New York State has successfully opted around 20% of eligible students out of the Common Core state standardized tests over the last three years. Opt-out numbers are even higher in a couple of counties on Long Island, reaching more than 50% in some instances. This opposition also halted attempts to create data infrastructures (the InBloom project funded by the Gates Foundation) to manage schooling and data across a number of states, including in New York (Lingard, 2018). Recently, the movement has focused on computer driven curriculum and pedagogies and the work of philanthropists in education. The opt-out movement is thus opposed to the corporate reform agenda in schooling. This paper focuses on the two most influential opt-out organizations in New York State, the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) and Long Island Opt Out (LIOO). Drawing on a large number of semi-structured interviews over the last three years, along with analysis of relevant documents, the paper focuses on the nature of the political strategies utilised by these two groups and also the relationship between their resistance and the work of the teacher unions. A quite high percentage of opt out membership were classroom teachers. The paper investigates how the opt-out movement used social media and horizontal grassroots organizing strategies to gain political success, along with vertical strategies pressuring the legislature and the state Board of Regents. Our research reveals that parents in New York are reclaiming their democratic citizenship role in influencing their children’s public schooling and rejecting the corporate reform agenda. Their agenda is broader than simply opposing high stakes testing. Here there has been a rejection of the attempt through neo-liberal education reforms and restructuring to reconstitute parents (and community members) as simply consumers of schooling in a competitive school market (Whitty, 2002, Brown, 2017. They have strenuously rejected such a construction and reclaimed their rights as democratic citizens to have a say in the schooling their children receive. The analysis will utilize the literature about the impact of neo-liberalism on citizens and citizen rights, work on twenty-first century grassroots political movements, and will situate all of this in the contexts of changing neo-liberal politics (Verger et al., 2016, Ball. 2017, Brown, 2017).
Ball, S. J. (2017). (3rd edition) The Education Debate. Bristol: Policy Press. Brown, W. (2017). Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. New York: Zone Books. Lingard, B. (2018). ‘The global education industry, data infrastructures and the restructuring of government school systems’. In Parreira do Amaral, M., Steiner-Khamsi, G. and Thompson, C. (Eds.) Researching the Global Education Industry: Commodification, the Market and Business Involvement. London: Palgrave MacMillan. Lingard, B. and Hursh, D. (2019). Grassroots democracy in New York State: Opting-out and resisting the corporate reform agenda in schooling. In Apple, M.W. and Riddle, S. (Eds.) Re-imagining Education for Democracy. New York: Routledge. Verger, A., Fontdevila, C. and Zancajo, A. (2016). The Privatization of Education: A Political Economy of Global Education Reform. New York: Teachers College Press. Whitty, G. (2002). Making Sense of Education Policy. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
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